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brisk, precise, middle-aged personage, who
hoped in the course of time to get his
company, and whose military qualifications
consisted chiefly in knowing "Torrens," the
"Articles of War," the "Military Regulations,"
and the "Army List," by heart. The
last-named work was, indeed, very generally
studied in the regiment, and may be said to
have exhausted almost all the literary
resources of its readers, exceptions being made
in favour of the weekly military newspaper,
the monthly military magazine, and an
occasional novel from the circulating library.
The rest of the officers must speak for
themselves, as they incidentally make their
appearance. Of their character, generally, this
may be said; none were wholly bad, but all
of them might easily have been a great deal

Brief ceremony attends a young officer's
introduction to his regiment, and the honourable
prefix to Ensign Spoonbill's name was
anything but a bar to his speedy initiation.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tulip took wine with him
the first thing, and his example was so quickly
followed by all present, that by the time the
cloth was off the table, Lord Pelican's second
son had swallowed quite as much of Duff
Gordon's sherry as was good for him. Though
drinking is no longer a prevalent military vice,
there are occasions when the wine circulates
rather more freely than is altogether safe for
young heads, and this was one of them. Claret
was not the habitual "tipple," even of the
crack "Hundredth;" but as Colonel Tulip had
no objection to make a little display now and
then, he had ordered a dozen in honour of the
new arrival, and all felt disposed to do justice
to it. The young Ensign had flattered himself
that, amongst other accomplishments, he
possessed "a hard head;" but, hard as it was, the
free circulation of the bottle was not without
its effect, and he soon began to speak rather
thick, carefully avoiding such words as began
with a difficult letter, which made his discourse
somewhat periphrastic, or roundabout. But
though his observations reached his hearers
circuitously, their purpose was direct enough,
and conveyed the assurance that he was one
of those admirable Crichtons who are "wide
awake" in every particular, and available for
anything that may chance to turn up.

The conversation which reached his ears
from the jovial companions who surrounded
him, was of a similarly instructive and
exhilarating kind, and tended greatly to his
improvement. Captain Hackett, who came from
"Dragoon Guards," and had seen a great
deal of hard service in Ireland, elaborately
set forth every particular of "I'll give you
my honour, the most remarkable steeple-chase
that ever took place in the three kingdoms,"
of which he was, of course, the hero.
Lieutenant Wadding, who prided himself on his
small waist, broad, shoulders, and bushy
whiskers, and was esteemed "a lady-killer,"
talked of every woman he knew and damaged
every reputation he talked about. Lieutenant
Bray, who was addicted to sporting and played
on the French horn, came out strong on the
subject of hackles, May-flies, grey palmers,
badgers, terriers, dew-claws, snap-shots and
Eley's cartridges. Captain Cushion, a great
billiard-player, and famous in every sea
for "the one-pocket game," was eloquent on
the superiority of his own cues, which were
tipped with gutta percha instead of leather,
and offered, as a treat, to indulge "any man in
garrison with the best of twenty, one 'up,' for
a hundred a-side." Captain Huff, who had a
crimson face, a stiff arm, and the voice of a
Stentor, and whose soul, like his visage, was
steeped in port and brandy, boasted of achievements
in the drinking line, which, fortunately,
are now only traditional, though he did his best
to make them positive. From the upper end
of the table, where sat the two veterans and
the doctor, came, mellowed by distance, grim
recollections of the Peninsula, with stories of
Picton and Crawford, "the fighting brigade"
and "the light division," interspersed with
endless Indian narratives, equally grim, of
"how our fellows were carried off by the
cholera at Cawnpore," and how many tigers
were shot, "when we lay in cantonments at
Dum-dum;" the running accompaniment to
the whole being a constant reference to so-
and-so "of ours" without allusion to which
possessive pronoun, few military men are able
to make much progress in conversation.

Nor was Colonel Tulip silent, but his
conversation was of a very lofty and, as it were,
ethereal order,––quite transparent, in fact, if
any one had been there to analyse it. It
related chiefly to the magnates at the Horse
Guards,––to what "the Duke" said to him
on certain occasions specified,––to Prince
Albert's appearance at the last levee,––to a
favourite bay charger of his own,––to the
probability that Lord Dawdle would get into
the corps on the first exchange,––and to a
partly-formed intention of applying to the
Commander-in- Chief to change the regimental
facings from buff to green.

The mess-table, after four hours' enjoyment
of it in this intellectual manner, was finally
abandoned for Captain Cushion's "quarters,'"
that gallant officer having taken "quite a
fancy to the youngster,"––not so much,
perhaps, on account of the youngster being a
Lord's youngster, as because, in all probability
bility, there was something squeezeable in
him, which was slightly indicated in his
countenance. But whatever of the kind there
might indeed have been, did not come out
that evening, the amiable Captain preferring
rather to initiate by example and the show of
good fellowship, than by directly urging the
neophyte to play. The rubber, therefore, was
made up without him, and the new Ensign,
with two or three more of his rank, confined
themselves to cigars and brandy and water, a
liberal indulgence in which completed what
the wine had begun, and before midnight